I think, it's time for us to focus on drafting a action plan on setting up, experimenting and scaling mesh networks in Tamilnadu and Pondicherry.
- Documentation, Instructions, Tutorials, Wiki pages on various mesh protocols (OLSR, BATMAN ADV, CJDNS, BABEL, etc.,).
- Experiences of various mesh communities around the globe (darknetplan, guifi, freifunk, commotion, etc.,)
- Applications / Ideas to deploy on Mesh networks.
With these resources, we need to start drafting a action plan for ourselves.
Two weeks back, myself, @ramaseshan, @mohan & shankar met at Pondicherry and discussed about the meshnet plan. This is how we have decided to start,
- Get a OpenWRT Compatible Router (used routers can be bought for low price).
- Decide on one Mesh Protocol (preferably B.A.T.M.A.N ADV)
- Flash the router with OpenWRT (B.A.T.M.A.N ADV installed)
- Configure OpenWRT to serve in mesh mode via BATMAN.
- Decide on common SSID / ESSID name for the network in your area.
- Let the Wireless SSID / ESSID be Open without any password, so that anyone could connect to it.
- Find a proper position at your place to place the router so that the wireless signal has it's reach to your neighbourhood.
- Let us bring some USE-VALUE to the network by deploying some applications (at Pondy, we have planned to start by setting up E-book library of books that are Nationalized (or) available under Public Domain / Creative Commons. (Yes the service is going to be centralized at the start, we need to be conscious and make it decentralized and then p2p as it scales)
- Put up a Poster (or) Banner around your building stating "Free WiFi" or "WLAN [city-name]".
- Design flyers, pamphlets about the network and distribute it only to the neighbourhoods.
- Identify neighbours who are already into computers & programming (students & developers).
- Invite them for a meetup, explaining the idea of mesh network to them and to form a mesh local community there.
- Once people starts to talk about this free network in and around you, even those who don't receive signal would also be interested to join the network. When such a demand arises, that is when we need to make use of other members routers to peer with the existing one and thus grow gradually.
- Identify neighbours from various domains (art, music, education, politics, commerce, etc.,) and create space for them to share their creations & consume others work too.
- Blog, record (or) document our experiences.
The above mentioned action plan should go through various iterations. After each iteration of the 15 step action plan, the outcome has to be evaluated, performance study has to be made to improve, feedbacks should be sought from community members, new p2p applications with high USE VALUE has to be deployed.
The documentation / resources from freifunk & commotion community would be highly useful for us to get started which includes ideas for reaching out to new people, designing flyers, posters, etc.,
Note: Devices like RaspberryPi, Beaglebone along with Wireless radio adapter can also be used in place of a router. The advantage is that, we don't need OpenWRT for those devices since the devices are already running a GNU/Linux distribution and the respective mesh protocols can be installed on them the way they already are.